Is Augmented Reality the Future of Publishing and Should You be Using It?

Over the past few decades, the publishing industry has seen a lot of major changes. The most important release change right now is the shift from pure printing to integrating digital and print publishing.

Augmented reality (AR) technology is a new development strategy that has taken the publishing industry by storm. Its use will bring massive opportunities for authors and publishers. 

But many people still question whether this new technology really offers many benefits to publishing, or if it’s simply a marketing ploy designed to help authors and publishers generate more revenue.

If you are unsure of the answer, then read on to discover more about augmented reality, what it could mean for the future of publishing, and whether or not you should be using it.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)? 

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that allows you to overlay digital images in the physical world. 

With it, creators can add engaging multimedia content to traditional paper content, bringing about a true merging of digital publishing and traditional publishing.

Readers can download an app or use their tablets or smartphones to scan the page. Then, in addition to the content on the page, readers will see pop-up content, which includes 3D images, video content, audio, social media and web links, and more.

Why Should You Be Using AR in Publishing?

AR in publishing brings benefits for everyone – authors, publishers, and readers alike. Below are a few of the major advantages of using this technology right now. 

  • Take Your Brand Beyond The Screen: The importance of using web design tools to create a stunning and responsive web design cannot be understated. However, combining these tools with AR can take your brand to the next level by properling itself from a two-dimensional screen into three-dimensional reality.
  • Reach a Wider Audience: Publishers can reach broader audiences since traditionalists can enjoy books in print form while fans of technology can download the app to get the AR experience.
  • Enhanced Story Elements: The app improves different elements of the story, such as images and text, and adds extra features like 3D characters and animation which makes for an enhanced reader experience.
  • Improved Customer Relationships: Authors and publishers can gain insight into readers buying their books as the apps generate valuable customer data and provide opportunities for follow-up marketing activity and improved future campaigns.
  • More Experential Classes: Building online courses using AR technology is a way to make the lessons much more experiential, engaging, and interactive for your students. Instead of just learning from a screen and microphone, they can interact with the material being taught.

Keep in mind that this change in the publishing industry is still relatively new, and no doubt more benefits will reveal themselves in time – especially with the rise in 5G.

How is AR Different from Virtual Reality (VR)?

Augmented reality is often confused with virtual reality. However, the two concepts are very different and it’s important to make the correct distinction from the start. 

Virtual reality is the creation of a simulated environment through the use of computer technology. This simulated experience can be similar to, or totally different from the real world. 

Applications of this technology include business, education, and entertainment, among others.

The distinction between AR and VR comes down to the experience itself, as well as the devices required to use the technology. 

Here is a short summary of the differences between AR and VR: 

  • AR uses real-world settings whereas VR is completely virtual
  • AR can be accessed with a tablet or smartphone, whereas VR requires a headset device
  • AR enhances the real world and virtual reality whereas VR only enhances fictional reality

Examples of AR Technologies in the Market

There are already a ton of incredible examples of AR technology in the market right now. Many of them promise to totally revolutionize the way people interact with the world. 

Some examples of AR technology include: 

  • Nintendo’s Pokemon Go App: It would be hard to have an augmented reality discussion without talking about the 2016 smash hit, Pokemon Go, which allowed users to find and catch Pokemons that were superimposed on the real world and visible through users’ smartphones.
  • Disney’s Coloring Book: Disney used AR to come up with a unique way for children to experience their favorite characters in 3D. The app projects the images from coloring books into 3D renderings when viewed on a mobile phone, offering an exciting new way for children to explore their imagination.
  • IKEA Mobile App: IKEA is among the first companies to embrace augmented technology. Since 2012, the giant retailer has been helping shoppers see how various pieces of furniture would look in their house through the use of a simple app. 

Currently, customers can use the IKEA Place app to select items from the store’s catalog and see how they would look to scale anywhere in their house.

The publishing industry, in particular, is set to benefit a lot from the enormous potential of AR.

AR As a Publishing Tool

When used as a publishing tool, AR technology can help readers use the devices to discover more content, gain context, and engage with content in a more fun and meaningful way.  

Digital content is more engaging, and AR can help to make books, magazines, and other publications come alive. 

Readers will see dynamic content, videos, sounds, 3D characters animations, etc. – all of which will be very vivid and certainly more memorable.

Below are a few examples of AR being used as a publishing tool. 

First, we will look at the companies that are embracing AR, and then examples of books, magazines, and other publications that are enjoying the many benefits offered by this technology.

Companies Embracing AR

  • Onirix: An online studio for creating, customizing, and sharing no-code augmented reality experiences. 
  • Overly App: A free DIY online platform to help you bring your augmented reality ideas to life.
  • Devar: A family-friendly augmented reality (AR) platform for books, toys, and education for kids and adults.

These are just a few of the many companies that have embraced AR as a publishing tool. 

But, since the focus of this article is on whether or not you should be using augmented reality, let’s take a look at a few examples of AR publications so you can see how other authors and publishers are making use of this exciting new technology.

Examples of AR Publications

1. AR Book: Magic Painting

This AR children’s book was published by the New Third Board and is a great example of how AR brings digital and traditional publishing together in a wonderful way. 

Children reading the book can see vivid 3D images of the piglet. They can also hear both the English and Chinese pronunciation of the pig, which will undoubtedly improve their learning results.

2. AR Magazine: ZERNO Magazine

ZERNO is a Ukrainian magazine with an AR app that displays interactive content and brings features to life. 

In essence, the use of this technology in printed products like this publication and others including newspapers, simple brochures, etc. removes the restrictions that come with having only text and allows readers to see superimposed virtual products against a real-world background.

This can be particularly helpful for publications that cover vast topics like climate change, and AR can help readers to more easily picture different realities within their familiar surroundings.

In such an instance, AR-driven content can be extremely engaging, and the apps can add real value to the story.

3. Coloring Book: Quiver

The Quiver coloring book app allows kids to print out pages after they’ve colored them in so they can bring them to life through AR. 

Quiver, Bic, and other brands are using this technology to instill customer loyalty from an early age by partnering with children’s book authors to create interactive, fun stories and encourage children to create their own art with special effects.

These are just a few examples of authors and digital publishers that have embraced AR technology, but hopefully, they are enough to show you the scope of AR usage in the publishing industry.

Benefits and Negatives of AR Technology

As with all other technologies, AR comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. 

Before you decide whether or not you should use augmented reality in publishing, take a look at the benefits and challenges of the technology.


  • Increased interactivity: Interactivity is crucial for learning as it helps to increase involvement and commitment, as well as make the material more memorable for learners. This ultimately improves the quality of the learning outcome.
  • Ability to reach children more easily: The app provides a richer and more engaging experience for readers (particularly children), which leads to higher retention and provides extra enjoyment.
  • Competitive advantages: Compared to publishers not using AR, those who do experience a distinct competitive edge, and this allows them to improve the results they get from their marketing and sales efforts. 
  • Create New Revenue Streams: There many ways to make money on a blog or website from affiliate marketing to display ads to online courses and much more. However, the introduction of AR into the publishing spaces is creating new revenue streams for bloggers, web designers, developers, and publishers of all types while allowing new ways increase the ROI with existing revenue streams.


  • Costs to be incurred: Not all companies have the budget to create their own AR apps, and so this technology may not be accessible to all.
  • New technologies that must be deployed: Another drawback to using augmented reality in publishing is that it requires new technologies to be deployed, which significantly raises the barrier to entry.
  • Troubleshooting for unknown errors: Since this is a new technology, a lot of companies may face great challenges in troubleshooting for unknown errors.


AR has something for everyone, in every industry. I hope by now you understand the role of augmented reality in publishing, and whether or not you should be using it to improve your results and help you meet your objectives.

A lot of businesses are incorporating AR technologies into their service offering so they can enhance customer interaction, and build more meaningful connections with their audience by providing tailored products and services. 

This is something that is becoming indispensable in today’s information age and it can help publishers and authors stand out from the competition.

Do you think you stand to benefit from using augmented reality in publishing? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Ron Stefanski is an online entrepreneur and professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online business.  You can learn more from him by visiting You can also connect with him on YouTube or Linkedin.

Is Augmented Reality the Future of Publishing and Should You be Using It? was last updated December 10th, 2021 by Ron Stefanski